Skip to main content

Criminology Will Be a Top Career Through the 2020s

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Bones often offer excellent evidence.

Bones often offer excellent evidence.

What Is Criminology?

Criminology (which is in the field of sociology, the science or study of society) is the scientific study of crime, criminals, criminal behavior, and corrections. It also examines the prevention of crime and society's response to crime. Criminology includes the examination of evidence, hereditary and psychological causes of crime, various modes of investigation, conviction, and the efficacy of differing styles of punishment, rehabilitation, and corrections.

Radio and television have popularized the study of crime through shows such as The Shadow, Sherlock Holmes, The Naked City, The Defenders, Perry Mason, Mr. Lucky, The Wild Wild West, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, The District, CSI, CSI Miami, Numbers, and hundreds of others. Literature is filled with crime stories and magazines like True Crime. Crime is popular and crime-stoppers, from superheroes to policeman and amateur detectives, are revered.

Of course, there are many real-life careers available in criminology, as well, ones that are extremely challenging and rewarding.

What Is a Criminologist?

A criminologist is a sociologist or social scientist who 1) specializes in criminology and 2) studies social behaviors. Each society has its own set of norms and deviations and these people examine the norms (most common behaviors) and the deviations from those norms of behavior.

A criminologist usually studies crime and law in college and earns at least one academic degree (an associate's, bachelor's, master's, and/or a doctorate (Ph.D.) degree).

A criminologist provides theoretical explanations for the aberrant, delinquent, and criminal behaviors manifested in a population. They analyze criminal law, criminal behavior, and the methods used by criminals to practice deviant behavior and break the law. Criminologists work with a variety of levels and types of law enforcement agencies to develop behavior profiles for particular types of crimes. In addition, they gather statistics on crime rates. They investigate crimes and analyze the larger criminal justice system and its processes.

A criminologist is a sociologist or social scientist who 1) specializes in criminology and 2) studies social behaviors.

Criminology Jobs Increasing in 2015 – 2016

Fluctuations have led to an increase in 2015 and into 2016, a recovery from a previous decline.

Fluctuations have led to an increase in 2015 and into 2016, a recovery from a previous decline.

Criminal Justice occupations are increasing very rapidly in 2015 – 2016.

Criminal Justice occupations are increasing very rapidly in 2015 – 2016.

Qualifications of a Criminologist

A criminologist is a sociologist and must therefore be interested in human beings and their well-being. Human beings must not be, or become, merely objects to a criminologist. This is because the purpose of the field, as it is with all of sociology, is to make the quality of life better for all.

A criminologist must be able to express ideas and concepts clearly, both in writing and in person. They must be computer-literate and proficient on the internet, especially in applications related to criminology. A criminologist may need to address large groups of people and demonstrate good public speaking skills. They need to be focused, creative, analytical, logical, adept at problem-solving, and dedicated to the profession of criminology and its goals of improving the criminal rehabilitation system and preventing crime. A criminologist must be interested in society as a whole and especially in victims of crime and in disadvantaged individuals and groups that may contain a larger proportion of victims or crime-related behavior than the general population.

A criminologist is a sociologist and must therefore be interested in human beings and their well-being. Human beings must not be, or become, merely objects to a criminologist.

Education Requirements for the Criminologist

As I said, different degrees are required for different jobs, but the courses needed at the undergraduate level in college for criminology include government, sociology, introductory psychology, sociological psychology, juvenile delinquency, criminal law, constitutional law, and criminal theory. Additional studies include forensics, abnormal psychology, corrections, and statistics for the social sciences and business.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

Some students also take social work courses that deal with the criminal system and prisons. Criminologists also need classes in writing, computer science, and logic. Advanced degrees are required for individuals who will teach or conduct professional research. These advanced degrees are also required in order to climb the ladder professionally in the field of criminology.

Daily Tasks of a Criminologist

Entry-level criminologists conduct data collection, report proofing, and computer work, catalog information about the possible causes of crime and the crimes committed, compile crime statistics, and propose improvements for the use of resources.

These professionals also analyze and develop crime prevention strategies, the causes of crime, and how the community relates to crime. Criminologists may be involved in crime scene investigations or attend autopsies seeking evidence and information to analyze the crime.

Career Paths in Criminology

  • Corrections
  • Counseling
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Diversion Programming
  • Financial Fraud Investigation & Prevention
  • Forensics
  • Insurance Fraud Investigation & Prevention
  • Intervention Programming
  • Judicial / Courts
  • Law Enforcement
  • Medical Investigation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Research and Policy Studies
  • Private Investigation
  • Psychologist - Psychopathology Specialist
  • Retail Investigation
  • Special Agencies
  • Teaching
  • Women's Studies
  • Youth Programming & Counseling
  • Additional Careers in Sociology
DNA offers increasing amounts of evidence.

DNA offers increasing amounts of evidence.

Employment Systems for Criminologists

  • Court Systems
  • Correctional Institutions
  • Counseling Agencies
  • Banks & Financial Institutions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Non-Profit Agencies
  • Private Investigation Agencies
  • Retailers
  • Government:

Federal Government

  • Drug Enforcement Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations
  • Homeland Security
  • U.S. Border Patrol

State Government

  • State Highway Patrol
  • Dept. of Rehabilitation & Correction
  • Youth Services
  • Public Safety

Local Governments: County, City, Township, Village

  • Local Police Divisions
  • Public Safety
  • Department of the Treasurer

Additional Employment Opportunities in Criminology

Universities and government agencies employ professional criminologists for advanced teaching and research and policy assessment. Most criminologists become police officers, FBI agents, or state medical examiners, but criminologists may also work in universities teaching criminology, legal studies, law, and sociology. Federal and state justice agencies employ criminologists as research officers and policy advisers.

Criminologists are found in many different settings: airport security, corrections systems, probation or parole offices, drug enforcement agencies, FBI, US Customs, and other law enforcement agencies, not to mention corporations or financial institutions, and major department stores and law firms employing security officers, private investigators, and/or social workers. Some also work as consultants in the role of private investigators or security.

Areas of Specialization in Criminology

Many areas of specialization exist in the field of criminology. Professionals may concentrate on a specific age group in their work, including elementary school youth, middle school youth, high school youth, young adults, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens.

It is unfortunate that crime has worked its way down into the elementary school ages, but there are drug dealers that use these children to sell drugs and some young children are taking loaded guns to school. Some elementary school-aged children are drinking alcohol and using controlled substances regularly and all of these things contribute to crime.

Criminologists often focus on specific types of crimes. Some work with murders, some with armed robbery, vandalism, rape, or serial crimes of different sorts. They may alternatively specialize in crime prevention, crime scene investigation, criminal litigation, corrections, rehabilitation, or the privatization of prisons.

Profilers are criminologists who build profiles of specific crimes by reviewing patterns of behavior. They look at particular groups of people that commit specific crimes and build a sort of meta-profile, a combination of the behaviors of those involved in these crimes. Profilers can pinpoint an average age range and other demographic and psychological characteristics for an "average criminal" involved in a particular crime.